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ST. JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL
February 9 @ 11:30 am - 10:30 pm
Aside from its coffee culture, Melbourne is known for its distinctive and plentiful laneways: little sections of the street that hide the most remarkable of destinations…and one of the most iconic Australian music festivals. Except this one doesn’t hide – in fact, it does the opposite, expanding to Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Fremantle in Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand, and even to Singapore.
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival is a celebration of music in vibrant laneways and the cool end of the summer. This year, it proves that it takes the spirit of a Melburnian laneway with it, never forgetting its roots even after years of success.
THE AVALANCHES CHALLENGE
It began with a singular goal: close down an entire laneway to get The Avalanches to play for St. Jerome’s, an establishment co-owned by Jerome Borazio and Danny Rogers, located in the heart of Melbourne CBD in Caledonia Lane. As Melburnians would know, this can be no easy feat. Laneways are often packed with people and other establishments, and the foot traffic alone would be hard to divert, let alone to garner enough attention in the midst of multiple cafés and bars in the vicinity.
However, Borazio and Rogers succeeded, seemingly against all odds, and went above and beyond expectations. The ‘all day street party’ – as it was advertised in the 2,500 flyers placed all over the CBD – drew in 1,400 guests, 10 bands including The Avalanches, and a variety of DJs. Though Rogers admits that they were inexperienced, support from friends, family and colleagues brought the festival together, creating the foundation of success that saw it expand to Sydney: one expansion of many.
COOL FOR THE SUMMER
In 2011, St. Jerome’s moved out of the laneway scene and into a bigger venue in East Brunswick, renaming itself ‘Resurrection’. By then the festival grew from its Melbourne home and travelled around to Sydney, Brisbane, Fremantle and Auckland. By 2014, St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival featured worldwide artists and the year’s rising talents. Does Lorde sound familiar to you?
Over the years, what started as a challenge ended up like this: a worldwide success, advertised not just by flyers handed out or stuck around the CBD, but by Triple J radio. The venues got bigger. 10 bands became 25 in 2011, to over 30 in 2014 – and that’s just in Australia.
The upcoming festival in 2019 will be held on the 9th of February in Back Alley Sally’s, Footscray. So far, 28 acts have been announced, among which are international acts Billie Eillish, Mitski, Florence and the Machine and Jorja Smith, and some home-grown talent such as Courtney Barnett and Gang of Youths.
TAKE ME HOME, AUSSIE ROAD
Despite international success in Singapore and New Zealand, St. Jerome’s Music Festival doesn’t seem to have forgotten its roots. Its home is still Australia, and it’s set to come back with 53% of Australian acts for its 2019 run.
Fourteen years later and thousands of attendants ready for their musical street party, the street party has moved to Back Alley where it can accommodate greater numbers of people packed in a single venue on another hot Aussie summer.
In a way, it still keeps in touch with the classic vibe of a Melburnian laneway: jam-packed with culture, music, and enough good vibes to sing a parting ode to the end of another memorable Australian season.